If we have heard it once, we have probably heard it a million times playing airsoft "covering fire!!!!" or "suppressive fire!!!!!!" or something along those lines. After you shout this, you will have someone on your team maybe (if you're lucky) with an LMG or high cap mags shoot a few bursts and not hit anything and basically give up. Upon this happening you stop...and shout again to the same result. Repeat this a few more times and you realize you have only exposed your location to the opposing team. Next thing you know, you are calling a hit. Has this ever happened to you?
Every person that has played airsoft for several years that I have personally talked to has always said the same thing to me, "man Marck, its so hard to find a good gunner." or "oh man, having a good gunner on your team is the BEST!!". Now we have to think to ourselves, why is this and for my gunner friends out there, maybe this opinion piece could be something good for you.
First things first, you need to know your role and to be honest, if you can get this, most likely you will get the rest of the article. You have TWO jobs hold your enemy in place and facilitate forward or backwards movement of your squad. Now of course there are more functions to a gunner than the two I just mentioned but for the sake of keeping things simple, we will stick to these two basic functions.
Looking at the first function, you want to be able to hold your enemy in place. As a gunner you need to be observant and have a good eye on whats happening on the field. You need to know where rounds are coming from and have a clear channel of communication between yourself and your team members. You need to know where they are in relation to yourself and where you need to direct fire to. While much easier said than done, this is the bare minimum requirement for you to be an effective gunner on your team. When you here someone call out a location you need to make sure you have an idea as to where your guy is directing you to shoot towards and use some common sense as well to figure out in your own mind where the most logical locations are for you to direct your fire to. I.E. where would I hide and shoot my opponent, shoot there! The key thing to take away here is your job is to hold your enemy down so you are NOT looking to be slaying a bunch of guys out there. Shoot, suppress them don't let your enemy advance.
The second thing you want to do directly plays into the previous. You need to be able to think ahead and lay down fire on positions where the enemy is shooting at you from in order for your team assaulters to move up or move back. All too often many gunners on the airsoft field only have a small concept of this in regards to really small short bursts which only allows your team mates the chance of sticking his or her head out. You need to either take longer bursts, or more rapid bursts to facilitate your team to move up. Once you are able to continually keep your enemy pinned, you can start calling out where your team needs to go and in turn they will start cleaning house!
The key to being a good gunner is you need to always be conscious that you are not looking to be the big slayer on your team but rather the facilitator. You are the kind of guy that enjoys assists more than scoring and you want to be that person that propels your team to success. That is the main job of the gunner. While yes, if you can smoke a few guys its always fun, but you need to know your team mates are relying on you to hold the line and help them do their slaying. If you are a gunner that can do both, thats great but always remember, gunners need to support the team, if you can perform these basic tasks well, your team can clean up any opponent!